Stanley, Idaho (KMVT) - In the 1990's, a total of only 16 sockeye salmon made it back upstream from the Pacific Ocean to Redfish Lake; this year, there are record numbers of the salmon coming back to Idaho.
More than two thousand sockeye salmon have passed Lower Granite Dam on their way back to Redfish Lake; almost 500 of them have made it to the Salmon River near Stanley and Redfish Lake Creek.
Idaho Senator Mike Crapo (R) says, “Gives me hope. And it tells me those who've worked so hard to make this happen really are doing a very good job. And I have to thank our Idaho Fish and Game.”
The Fish and Game's Eagle Fish Hatchery has helped greatly increase the numbers of sockeye salmon; they release about 180,000 smolts every year.
Chad Colter, Shoshone-Bannock Fish & Wildlife, says, “Recovery is good, but we want to see some harvestable populations, 'cause that's really the tie for the tribes, is to make sure that our members can continue to do what they've done for years. And it's not only about the tribes, but we also want to look out for the future generations of the great state of Idaho.”
Senator Crapo helped fish and game employees to gather information on a salmon, which turned out to be one of the fish raised in a hatchery before it swam downstream to the Pacific Ocean.
One salmon supporter says the next step is to see if this salmon recovery effort can keep going; and that conservation groups taking legal action helped make the salmon's journey easier.
Idaho Rivers United Spokesperson Tom Stuart says, “The conditions that exist in that river now are far, far better than they were ten years ago, and it's because of our efforts. And we're celebrating that success, too.”